Sunday, October 31, 2010
I built a composter last summer. Nothing wimpy or small. It's big enough to accommodate all of the waste of our daily vegetable and fruit consumption: watermelon, sweet corn, pineapple, and zucchini... and when I make vegetable soup, the potato and carrot peelings, onions, cabbage, and celery...will find a handy repository. And some of our yard waste like grass clippings and leaves will find their way inside.
In the photo is some catalyst for my composter, rich organic ingredients hauled with my vintage aluminum wheel barrow. This garden friend holds fertile memories like compost.
You see, that wheelbarrow was willed to me by my former neighbour, a good natured Ukranian who lived to be in his early 90's. He tilled his acre of rich black soil and grew carrots and dill and pickles. He was a peddler who collected the bounty of our surrounding farming community and took them to the market in the city.
One day he said, "Paul, you are a gardener at heart, that is plain to see. When I need to move from this place I am leaving you my wheelbarrow. I think you will take care of it and appreciate it."
I think of Louis as I fill my composter with rich black soil and organic material. I think of my trusty wheelbarrow at least 50 years old. I think of rich memories of a neighbour who always had a smile, a joke, and a positive inclination amidst the difficulties and challenges of his life.
This is my submission to Magpie Tales for the week, a place to court the muses.
Friday, October 29, 2010
I have been collecting quotes for a while and consider the following particularly life affirming. I hope you enjoy this second selection of fifty too. The first Nifty Fifty are here.
-The person who turns inner violence around is the one who teaches what true peace is. ~Byron Katie
-I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. -Bill Cosby
-I hate quotations. Tell me what you know. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
-If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. ~J.K. Rowling
-The more choices you have, the more your values matter. ~ Michael Schraze
-In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. ~ Deepak Chopra
-He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
-The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. - Harriet Beecher Stowe
-Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. ~Confucius
Selected at quoteflections.
-Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses. ~Alphonse Karr
-Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
-If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain. ~Maya Angelou
-It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare. ~Mark Twain
-It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. ~ Charles Darwin
-A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a person. Kites rise against, not with the wind. ~ John Neal
-It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. ~J. K. Rowling
-Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ~Confucius
-Fall seven times, stand up eight. ~ Japanese proverb
-What is a rebel? A man who says no. ~Albert Camus
Selected at quoteflections.
-The strongest of all warriors are these two- Time and Patience. ~ Leo Tolstoy
-Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin. ~ Robert Collier
-The finest eloquence is that which gets things done. ~David George
-Our aspirations are our possibilities. ~ Robert Browning
-Plan for the future because that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life. ~ Mark Twain
-The waste of life occasioned by trying to do too many things at once is appalling. ~Orison Marden
-Make your vocation into vacation and you will not have to work a single day. ~Nicholas Lore
-He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
-Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight. ~ Helen Keller
-The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. ~ Chinese proverb
Selected at quoteflections.
-If a passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. ~ Benjamin Franklin
-It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself. ~ Betty Friedan
-Seek first to understand, then to be understood. ~ Stephen Covey
-The future depends on many things, but mostly in you. ~ Frank Tyger
-A great flame follows a little spark. ~Dante Alighieri
-Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving, but does not make any progress. ~ Alfred Montapert
-Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. ~James Conant
-Be careless in your dress if you must, but keep a tidy soul. ~Mark Twain
-In every living thing there is the desire for love. ~ D.H. Lawrence
-For each ecstatic instant/We must an anguish pay/In keen and quivering ratio/ to the ecstasy ~Emily Dickinson
Selected at quoteflections.
-If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. ~ John Quincy Adams
-A leader is a dealer in hope. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
-It's always too early to quit. ~ Norman Vincent Peale
-To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted. ~ George Kneller.
-Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them. ~ S. Covey
-If there is to be any peace it will come through being, not having. ~ Henry Miller
-Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person. ~ Albert Einstein
-“Everybody has talent, it’s just a matter of moving around until you’ve discovered what it is. ~ George Lucas
-If you wouldn't write it and sign it, don't say it. ~Earl Wilson
Selected at quoteflections.
Which quote(s) do you find particularly nifty?
Thursday, October 28, 2010
The tremendous growth is attributed to declining fish stocks and a global interest in the health benefits of eating fish. One observer said, "As long as we are a health-conscious population trying to get our most healthy oils from fish, we are going to be demanding more of aquaculture and putting a lot of pressure on marine fisheries to meet that need."
However, the practice carries some dangers including water pollution from the discharge of antibiotics and chemicals used to fight parasites, introducing non-native species which may escape, and using wild fish as feed.
In order to maximize growth and enhance flavor, aquaculture farms use large quantities of fishmeal and fish oil made from less valuable wild-caught species, including anchovies and sardine. In fact, 88 percent of global fish oil consumption goes to aquacultures.
Concern has also been expressed regarding the tremendous growth in the industry in China and other Asian countries where environmental standards are not as stringent.
How important is fish consumption for you? What is the answer for dwindling wild fish reserves?
This roundabout has attracted a lot of attention because it's one of the first in our area. It's most unnerving as you approach it for the first time. Instead of the driver stopping, the sign directs you to yield only to oncoming traffic from the left. If the coast is clear, you simply continue driving in a counter clock wise direction until you reach the road you want to travel.
Sounds simple enough. But what if the traffic is quite busy and an approaching driver is rather aggressive. Some patience and clear thinking is needed.
Of course, some turn circles are notorious for frayed nerves. Consider this brief video at the Arc de Triomphe roundabout in Paris. Indeed, pedestrians are directed into tunnels rather than negotiating with the traffic. My wife and I found the best vantage point atop the monument itself when we visited there.
What is your experience with turn circles or do you have an alternative traffic solution?
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
-Go West 'Old' Man, Sept. 5, 2010
-Go West 'Old' Man (2), Sept. 8
-A Merger of Wind, Rock, and Sky, Sept. 9
-Monumental Rushmore, Sept. 10
-Yellowstone is Hot, Sept. 13
-Where are the Glaciers?, Sept. 15
-From Disappointment to Delight, Sept. 17
-Nature's Utopia, Sept. 20
-Rich with History, Sept. 21
-Oregon Vistas, Sept. 23
-Spooked on Highway #1, Sept. 25
-Hovering Golden Gate, Sept. 26
-Yosemite Delivers, Sept. 29
-Trail of the Giants, Oct. 1
-Love the Canyon, Oct. 4
-Trail of Time, Oct. 5
-Enveloped by Edifices, Oct. 8
-Hoodoo Mecca, Oct. 9
-Scenic By Way, Oct. 10
-Seeking Confluence, Oct. 11
-Millenial Arches, Oct. 12
-Rocky Mountain High, Oct. 14
-Western Trek Recap, Oct. 18
Still got mammoth trees, canyons, and vistas on my mind.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
A new book by psychiatrist John Sharp entitled The Emotional Calendar: Understanding Seasonal Influences and Milestones to Become Happier, More Fulfilled and in Control of Your Life says in an interview that people have all kinds of associations like this to affect their attitudes and moods of the season.
In addition to the physical influences – the reduction of light that contributes to the so-called winter blues – there are cultural ones (the expectation that Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays are meant to be happy times when in fact they can be fraught with emotional turmoil) and, perhaps most important and least recognized, personal experience.
“Each person has a unique emotional calendar,” says Dr. Sharp, a faculty member at Harvard University’s medical school as well as a lecturer at the University of California. “It could be that you fell in love at a certain time of the year and you’re always reminded of it when it comes around again, or maybe you suffered a terrible loss in the fall and so that time is always associated with dread and anxiety.”
'Smells, in particular, can trigger whole scenes from the past because the olfactory nerve has the ability to locate memories throughout the brain, Dr. Sharp says. “And the seasons have very specific scents,” he says. “The smell of the earth after a spring shower is so unique and emotionally powerful that it has a scientific term – petrichor.” There’s the smell of a barbecue, of freshly mown grass, of snow and wet woolen mittens.'
The review encourages one to think about the changing seasons and the various holidays which affect us in positive or negative ways depending upon our previous experiences.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Dog ownership is enjoying a renaissance after being banned in parts of China.
In Beijing, for example, there are now 900,000 dogs, their numbers growing 10 percent a year. One owner spends about $300 a month on his dog.
The Beijing government decreed in 1983 that they and seven other animals, including pigs and ducks, were banned from the city.
But with the improvement in the economy, people’s outlooks have changed. "There’s a lot of stress in people’s lives, and having a dog is a way to relieve it.”
However, there are other factors in dogs’ new found popularity: "Many owners also say China’s one-child policy has fanned enthusiasm for dog ownership as a way to provide companionship to only children in young households and to fill empty nests in homes whose children have grown up."Moreover, some say dogs have become a status symbol where one can express individual taste by choosing different exotic breeds like the Tibetan mastiff. (image above)
"Mostly, though, it appears that Beijing dogs have, as in the West, become objects of affection — even devotion — by their owners." On a given weekend, hundreds of dog owners flock to Pet Park, a 29-acre canine spa east of the city, for example.
While I grew up on a farm, our family enjoyed a half dozen mixed breeds who never set foot in the house. Times have changed and for many they are family.
Via Michael Wines, New York Times
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The mind a mirror to
inner clashing cymbals
of hopes and failures
dreams and tragedies
successes and challenges
relationships and private deserts.
'Stop thinking and just relax!'
Count sheep, leaves, stars...
Anything to glide in a birch canoe
on a still pond
With stars and a new moon
And warmth under a feather quilt.
And some writers to shed some perspective:
A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow. ~Charlotte Bronte
Life is too short to sleep on low thread-count sheets. ~Leah Stussy
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.
~William Shakespeare, Macbeth
I couldn't resist a little creative writing with others at Magpie Tales.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
- What several questions do you have about your life?
- How might those questions lead you into answers?
- How could you use your questions to enrich your life?
Here are several of my questions:
- Where lies happiness and contentment?
- How do I respond to my neighbour?
- What are my strengths and how should I use them?
- How should I interact with nature?
- How much is enough?
- What should fill up my day?
- What are my priorities?
What are several of your questions?
Gordon Bennett's workshop in Brooklyn is that and more.... He takes junk and creates robots that look "like characters from a lost sci-fi movie Pixar made in 1955. You just want to hug them."
"In Bennett's hands, each machine part becomes like a metallic version of Plato's half-souls groping through the world, each looking for its chance to meet its match. It almost sounds mystical, this metalworking....
It's clear to me that Bennett's robots, which don't move or have any electronics, are art. Like a good impressionist painting can make you see the reality of light and color in new ways, Bennett's work shifts your perspective about the aesthetics of the mechanical world."
The excellent article encourages one to think about the creative vein that each of us has (male and female). It's also a delight to see it in others around us.
Via Alexis Madrigal for the Atlantic.
See more of his creations at Bennettrobotworks.com
Friday, October 22, 2010
At 365 Word Quest I select a word a day and provide an etymology and context. It's particularly interesting to see the sometimes convoluted origins of words. Also on the sidebar I have widgets for the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Online, and Wordnik. They each provide a word of the day. If you appreciate language, you may enjoy this cornucopia for the wordsmith.
Here is a selection from the last few weeks.
cacophony- jarring sound, discordant, harsh
- also cacophonous, cacophonic
- from Greek kakos- bad
camaraderie- a spirit of familiarity and trust existing between friends
- C19 from French, from comrade
cantankerous- quarrelsome; irascible
- C18, from Anglo French, perhaps from C14 conteckour- contentious person from conteck strife
capricious- characterized by or liable to sudden unpredictable changes in attitude or behaviour; impulsive; fickle
- caprice, capriciousness- noun
-from French, Italian capriccio- capo- head +riccio- hedgehog, suggesting a convulsive shudder of a hedgehog's spines
carpe diem- seize the day
-Latin from Horace
carte blanche- complete discretion or authority
-C18 from French- blank paper
catharsis- the purging or purification of the emotions through the evocation of pity and fear, as in tragedy; the bringing of repressed ideas or experiences into consciousness, thus relieving tensions
-from Greek katharsis- to purge, purify
caveat emptor- let the buyer beware
charisma- a special personal quality or power of an individual making him capable of influencing or inspiring large numbers of people; a quality inherent in a thing which inspires great enthusiasm and devotion
-C17 from Latin, Greek kharisma, from kharis- grace, favour
charlatan- someone who professes knowledge or expertise, especially in medicine, that he does not have; quack
-C17 from French, from Italian ciarlare- to chatter
chauvinism- aggressive or fanatical patriotism; jingoism; enthusiastic devotion to a cause; smug irrational belief in the superiority of one's own race, party, sex- male chauvinism
C19 from French chauvinisme- after Nicolas Chauvin- legendary French soldier under Napoleon, noted for his vociferous and unthinking patriotism
churl- a surly, rude, ill-bred person
- Old English ceorl; Old Norse karl, Middle Low German kerle, Greek geron old man
- also adjective churlish
convivial- sociable; jovial or festive
-C17 from Latin convivium, a living together, banquet from vivere to live
Are there any words above which strike your fancy?
Thursday, October 21, 2010
- How are you progressing with your life story?
- How can (do) you overcome the challenges surrounding your life?
- What are your distinguishing qualities as a hero?
I am on track for completing 365 posts at 365 Quote Quest this year. Here I provide a quote and ask about three questions for reflection: a quoteflection.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Imagine forests growing through the carpet planting of seedlings by C-130's. Ironically the planes known for planting fields of landmines can now be used to restore barren landscapes.
The research has been done and the technology developed says a spokesman for Aerial Forestation Inc. "There are 2,500 C-130 transport aircraft in 70 countries, so the delivery system for planting forests is widely available - mostly mothballed in military hangers waiting for someone to hire them.
The possibilities are amazing. We can fly at 1,000ft at 130 knots planting more than 3,000 cones a minute in a pattern across the landscape - just as we did with landmines, but in this case each cone contains a sapling. That's 125,000 trees for each sortie and 900,000 trees in a day."
The tree cones are pointed and designed to bury themselves in the ground at the same depth as if they had been planted by hand. They contain fertilizer and a material that soaks up surrounding moisture, watering the roots of the tree. The metal tips of the cones also biodegrade as soon as they hit the soil.
The Scottish mountains, the Black Forest in Germany, semi arid areas in Africa.... it's exciting to think about what barren settings throughout the world could be restored.
This theme of reforestation also brings to mind Jean Giono's wonderful account of "The Man Who Planted Trees."
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
They have set up an active latrine trade in Cambodia where "some 85 per cent of rural dwellers defecate in fields, creating a massive public-health problem."
"The reasons for Cambodia’s dismal sanitation rates were no mystery. Installing a toilet ran about $150, well beyond the means of the average Cambodian, and few people responded to hectoring public-health lectures about the ills of defecating above their water table."
“Somehow, we had to make the world’s most unsexy product seem attractive to people who knew very little about it."
First, they redesigned the toilet and called it Easy Latrine, a simple $30 toilet using a prefabricated chamber, pipes and a concrete pit. Where an old-style latrine took a whole day’s work and several contractors, any villager can install an Easy Latrine in a few hours.Officials with other NGOs, including the esteemed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are now asking for the couple’s help in other sanitation enterprises around the world. "They’ve even been inducted into the World Toilet Association hall of fame (yes, it exists)."
A story like this reveals the benefits of our lifestyle that many of us take for granted in developed countries.
Why do we fret over those many fashionable, designer decisions for our homes when so many throughout the world have so little?
Sunday, October 17, 2010
(Begin with my post of September 5 and the eleven posts thereafter if you have missed my updates.)
Here are some conclusions from our trip:
- Purchasing the $80 U. S. National Parks Annual Pass is one of the greatest bargains available. Most parks charge $20-$25 for admission. The pass covers them all!
- Be prepared for surprises on a road trek: a steer in the middle of the road, no guard rails on perilous precipices, fog near mountain tops, breathtaking vistas.
- America is BIG. We were often amazed at the distances between some destinations. Even the parks themselves are large. Also the roads around mountains are never straight. I received a certificate in the daring switch back manoeuvre.
- Besides the national parks, often national forests and national monuments and state parks extend the reach of protected areas.
- America has kind, friendly people. Moreover, we were surprised by the number of tourists from Europe and the diversity of languages spoken.
- RV'ing is big, including the rental RV. Many people are arriving at a destination like San Francisco and renting their own RV for several weeks from rental places like Cruise America.
- Be ready to observe the wild life. We were thrilled to see wolves, buffalo, bears, elk...
- We were awed by the wisdom of the national parks initiative. How tragic if all these pristine areas were decimated and dominated by commercial interests today.
- Finally I have built my own log cabin of wonderful memories from this adventure.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
They opened the road again just as we arrived. It had been closed for two days because of snow and ice.
On our way home from our six week western trek, we made sure to stop at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Here, we were greeted by snow capped mountains and aspen trees in golden splendour. The high elevation of our campsite at 9,000 feet and the drive on the highest major highway at 12,183 feet suddenly introduced us to winter. The park also sits at the top of the Continental Divide.
We were also enthralled by the fact that we were at the banks of the source of the Colorado River which is over 1,450 miles long and which we have enjoyed in the lower spectacular regions.
Finally we were awakened early by the rutting call of a large bull elk with five foot antlers. His harem of 10 accompanied him as they gathered around our campsite. (It was too early in the morning to get a picture of the persistent male.)
Of course, it was John Denver who loved this park and sang "Rocky Mountain High."
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The imposing brown sandstone structures of the park have been sculpted through eons of rain, ice, wind, and gravity. They slowly ate away at the surface of the rock to create inspiring and, sometimes, other worldly images. We arrived by mid morning to enjoy the interplay of light, shadow, and colour on the rocks. Then as we left the park at six we noticed totally new vistas with the setting sun. We talked to some people who have come back multiple times to enjoy its vistas. (That's my wife in the picture above.)
The hike to see Delicate Arch (that's yours truly in the picture below) is quite an invigorating three mile trek. You do not see the famed arch until you round a dizzying bend in a massive cliff face. Once there, you can sit atop at a lofty elevation of the park to see this inspiring work of nature's hand. The arches are so breathtakingly large, and yet so vulnerable to eventual collapse. Indeed, several arches have been severely eroded in the last twenty years, and one has collapsed.
Meet 'the gossips' who stand very tall.
And nature's counterpart to Rodin's 'Thinker'?
And that's my wife under the double arches. (Click on photo for more detail.)
Finally, how did we have the chance to pose alone under these imposing structures? How fortunate that we could travel in the off season when visitors are beginning to wane.
Monday, October 11, 2010
My wife and I commented on the vast openness of the land and sky. It seemed like we were intimately part of the rhythms going on there.
On one pathway sign we stopped to reflect on a poignant perspective:
To a life that accepts Nature's hand in sculpting an individual expression- Nothing is exempt.
From the mellifluous rhythm and tone of the wind chimes, to the transitional cloud- Nothing exists alone.
All things thrive and whither in confluence with one another.
So it is: the paradox of our divinity. ~ Dave Buschow
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The views include meadows, forests and canyons filled with aspens and pines. At one point we reached an elevation of 9,600 feet to enjoy panoramic vistas.
By the way, Utah chose the beehive as its emblem (as seen in the highway sign) when Brigham Young led the persecuted American sect of Mormons into the deserts of Utah in 1847. The determined Mormons made the desert bloom through their hard work and skill. The land of Utah covers 85,000 square miles, and is home to some of the most spectacular and unique natural formations in the country.
(If you click on a picture, you may receive an enlarged and much more enhanced view.)
Saturday, October 9, 2010
We noticed that the distinctive pinkish peach, limestone rock is much softer than the previous stone vistas we have visited. One can see clear evidence of the fragility of these pillars and their vulnerability to the assaults of water and frost. The canyon is shaped like an amphitheater, and the valley below, with its expanse of pine, is its attentive admirer.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Our first visit was to Zion National Park, where one is surrounded by tall multi coloured mountains and cliffs and which cradle the Virgin River. A very efficient shuttle service drops tourists off at select destination points where one can take advantage of hiking and photo opportunities.
We enjoyed emerald pools and waterfalls and walks along the river. Many of the park names were coined in the early 1900's by a passing Methodist minister including the court of the three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Zion is a heavenly place close to God. The park celebrated its centennial in 2009 with the theme, 'A Century of Sanctuary.'
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
The 1800 metre path represents the 1.8 billion year history of the rocks exposed in the Grand Canyon. It is marked with inset bronze disks, each meter symbolizing 1 million years of Earth's history. Along the route one can stop to see a representative rock of the age. As well, you can look out at the rocks which are embodied in the canyon.
For several days intermittent rain has dumped more than 4 inches and fog has shrouded the canyon occasionally. Patience is needed to wait for the vistas to return; meanwhile, the trail of time was most serendipitous.